In a recent Canadian decision, the director and shareholders of a company were found personally liable for trade mark infringement.

The decision can be seen as broadly consistent with New Zealand law. There is no prohibition on personal liability of officers of a company under the Trade Marks Act 2002.

The general approach is that company directors can be personally liable where they are in control to such a degree they assume personal liability.

In the Canadian case, the trade mark HIGH TIMES was owned for use in relation to smoking accessories and was in use. The respondents used the mark for marijuana paraphernalia without the owner's permission.

The Court found that the director and shareholders were clearly in control of the company. The Court reviewed evidence of social media posts to confirm that. 

The Canadian Court was willing to find the owners personally liable on the basis that willing infringement of the mark could not be legitimate exercise of the position as directors.